Tori Lunden had an epiphany a few years back.
The yoga instructor had hit a personal wall, and was face-to-face with an existential crisis.
“In my experience, faking it until you make it never worked for me. I just faked it a lot and never made it anywhere,” Lunden says. “I can’t do a headstand on speeding car, giving the peace sign while talking about world hunger.”
As a teacher, she realized she wasn’t treating herself with the same compassion she offered students and felt weighted down by expectations.
“I was just so frustrated with the image of the yogi,” Lunden says. “I was trying to fit into it and getting really indignant about it. I realized that I needed to find a new way of doing it or I was going to quit teaching.”
Then, a light switched on.
“There is no shame in being a messy human being,” Lunden explains. “It’s something we all struggle with. I think this is pretty universal.”
It was then that the “Bad at Yoga” blog was born. The eight-year teaching veteran embraced her imperfections in written updates.
“Bad at quieting the mind,” “bad at Astavakrasana,” “bad at compulsively turning every experience into a yoga photoshoot”—these are the titles of some of her posts. And as the site states, “$90 yoga pants not required.”
While she’s faced some negative feedback, many students find her relatable and share their own dirty little yoga secrets.
This perspective has also transferred over to her instructing. Lunden moved away from ‘faking it,’ to embracing her own style of yoga.
Lunden focused on her personal diversity—prior yoga training in India and possessing a degree in social work—using her humour and compassion to guide her classes.
“I’m just not a serious teacher. I’m serious about teaching, [but] there just is a lightheartedness to the way I teach,” Lunden says of her method. “I speak or teach to who is there, which can be a real pain in the ass because I have some really good classes planned but it isn’t relevant to who is there. It means I have to be flexible with what I’m covering.”
Lunden teaches a class in the Alberta Gallery of Art (AGA). From Lunden’s perspective, this class exemplifies her teaching style as it is malleable. The class themes are drawn from the surrounding artwork which means Lunden has to think outside the yoga box.
“There are some exhibits where I joke that I’m along for the ride, the art does all the work,” she says. “One of the cool things about the gallery is that it is all about the human experience, and so much of art comes out of the uncomfortable parts of the human experience. To use that to form a yoga class is really a valuable challenge because … we tend to focus too much on the shiny parts.”